There is little possibility that Saudi Arabia and Iran will reach a compromise on the price of oil marketed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries before July, officials from the State and Treasury departments said yesterday.
Government and oil industry analysts have been maintaining a close watch on international price and supply developments since OPEC set new prices last December.
At that time Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which account for a third of OPEC's total production, refused to increase prices more than 5 per cent, while Iran and 10 other producers set a two-phase 15 per cent increase.
"There is no evidence that either the high-or low-tier system could remain in effect beyond July exists," a State Department official said.
A senior Saudi official, Dr. Farouk Akhdar, said in an interview with The Washington Post that Saudi Arabia would not seek a compromise with Iran. "It is difficult to divorce price from political factors," Akhdar said.
Akhdar, who is secretary general of the Royal Commission for the country's western provinces of Jubail and Yanbu, stressed that the Saudi's have pursued a course on moderating OPEC prices. "Saudi Arabia," Akhdar said, "would never let the world economy suffer because of her decisions."
Government and industry sources said Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Fahd, who will meet with President Carter in Washington next month, forged the Saudi's moderate pricing policy.
At a meeting with oil company officials in Tehran last month, the Shah of Iran said he expected the companies to continue to buy Iranian oil, in spite of the price differential with Saudi oil.
Following the December OPEC meeting, the Saudis told the Arabian-American Oil Co. (Aramco) to increase production to 9.6 million barrels a day, but because of severe weather conditions in January, Aramco was able to produce and ship 8.4 million barrels a day.
The bad weather at Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia's major oil port, and a rising demand for oil in the consuming countries enabled Iran to ship 5.1 million barrels of oil a day in January. In February Iran's production rose to 5.6 million barrels a day.
U.S. government analysts said that if Iran's production falls much below 4.9 million barrel's a day the Shah may ask the State Department, as he did last year, to put pressure on the oil companies to increase production.
"The companies are not feeling the strain now, but they could later this spring, depending upon demand," one industry source said.
The next OPEC ministerial meeting is scheduled for July in Stockholm.